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Measure the severity of a road

Discussion in 'Electronic Design' started by Michael Slater, Apr 23, 2004.

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  1. Running south from Alice Springs is a 230km road/track/railbed that
    reaches a tiny aboriginal community. Each June the Finke Desert Race
    ( is held as a two-day
    there-and-back-again race.

    The drivers are incredible. The fastest bikes and buggies finish a
    leg in only a little over two hours. Driving it in a stock landcruiser
    might take the better part of a day if you are taking your time and
    enjoying the scenery.

    Anyway, when we drove it last year we recorded the route with a GPS.
    That's good for plotting locations, and to a lesser degree speed.
    Afterwards I was daydreaming about having a device that would record
    the severity of the road. The route is punishing and has a huge range
    of surfaces (gravel roadways, sandy berms and dunes, giant 'whoops'
    [imagine a washboard road where the washboards are three feet high]).

    What would be an appropriate instrument to measure the "severity" of
    the ride? Ideally it'd be a small instrument that dumped telemetry to
    my laptop through a serial port. Knowing nothing about the subject, I
    thought perhaps three accelerometers measuring three dimensionally
    would work. Are those 'g-forces' what you'd want to measure, or is
    the desired measurement the 'vibration' of the ride? Any
    suggestions/ideas how to turn a daydream into something that works?

  2. A single accelerometer mounted to record vertical acceleration on the axle
    of the vehicle would probably give you a pretty good idea of the severity.
    Just do some test runs on various road surfaces for comparison. One of the
    Pico range of A/D converters run into a parallel port on a laptop would be
    an easy start for logging, provided the laptop survives.


    Adrian Jansen
    J & K MicroSystems
    Microcomputer solutions for industrial control
  3. Mike Page

    Mike Page Guest

    There is a British standard that specifies acquisition and processing
    techniques to assess "Ride and handling". As I recall there were 3 axes
    and 6 filter sets for different psychological effects, and various
    graphs so you can interpret your readings. It might be an EN
    (euro-norme) now. I just can't remember (or find) the number. I might
    even have a copy of it in storage.
  4. I read in that Mike Page <[email protected]
    CAPSweb.BLAMEco.SWENuk> wrote (in <.
    uk>) about 'Measure the severity of a road', on Fri, 23 Apr 2004:
    ENs are 'European Standards'. The word 'Euronorm' applies to standards
    issued by the old Coal and Steel Community. Some of the numbers are
    ambiguous, so if you use the wrong term you get the wrong document,
    which may be expensive.
  5. Rob

    Rob Guest

    It's not a DIY solution but there are small self contained freight/transport
    loggers that will log G forces. They are packed in with sensitive freight to
    log the travel "experiece" of the goods.

    I worked on a project some time back using Crossbow 3 axis accellerometers
    with a peak hold circuit on each axis for a similar transport logging
    application. Peak acceleration values were logged by an existing logging
    system that was recording some other parameters.

  6. onestone

    onestone Guest

    Having done this for Monster mining vehicles it is not quite as simple
    as a 3D accelerometer. However you could get basic information with a 2D
    accelerometer at each corner of the vehicle. You could then refine this
    with further measurement at the CG of the vehicle.

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